British statesman Winston Churchill once referred to Uganda as "the Pearl of Africa's Crown," with its equatorial snow-capped mountains, breathtaking waterfalls originating from the headwaters of the Nile at Lake Victoria, and over 3,400 species of birds and magnificent mountain gorillas. Today, Uganda secures Churchill's epithet by offering tourists white water rafting through turbulent rivers and exotic treks around shimmering lakes, creating an almost mythic lost kingdom for visitors.
But 3rd-year St. Vladimir's seminarian Troy Hamilton saw another, more circumspect view of the country when he visited the northern region around the small town of Gulu over his winter semester break, January 1-12, 2009. Snubbing the superlative camping spots and spectacular national parks, he saw people. People recovering from a civil war that had decimated villages and forced their resettlement in United Nations refugee camps where they lingered for decades. People without ambition. People reluctant to rebuild their hometowns after their kinfolk and children had been beaten, raped, maimed, forced to march to exhaustion, or sold into virtual slavery as concubines and soldiers by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
Although being at the first glance a purely Muslim republic with strong national traits and traditions, Tatarstan has many venerated shrines of the Russian Orthodox Church. The capital of Tatarstan itself observes the strict rule that regulates the number of churches and mosques within the city limits.
The region boasts unique Russian churches and monasteries that are stunningly picturesque, yet in the middle of nowhere, with the mighty Volga on one side and virgin wood covering steep slopes on the other.
A church in the east end of Glasgow is to be consecrated as the first place of worship for the Romanian Orthodox Church in Scotland. Shettleston Old Parish Church will host a special inauguration ceremony at 3pm this Sunday as it becomes the home for Romanian Orthodox followers in the city.
The Russian Orthodox Church predicts, in case the West finally refuses its Christian heritage, it will face "war of all against all."
"When the West tries to expel, to erase every reminder of Christ from public space, it's pathology of fighting against their own conscience, their own tradition. It won't surprise me, if the West loses itself entirely in this fight," Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said on Saturday in the Orthodox Encyclopedia TV program on TV Center.
On the Eve of Orthodox Christmas, interim head of the Russian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad congratulated Orthodox Christians.
"Today we recall how the Son of God came down to people so that each one of us could rejoin Him. But to allow this to happen, there must be a response on our part, response worthy of divine love - our own love, active and sacrificial," the Metropolitan said in his Christmas message to believers.